Installing the Wide Plank White Oak Flooring I Made

Welcome back to our home renovation-remodel project! Today I will be starting the part of the project that I have been most excited to get to since the start: installing the floor. 

I wasn’t excited about making the flooring, but now I get to see it all come together on this giant canvas of wood, and I’m pretty excited for that. 

In the last update, I did some prep to get the subfloor ready for the install, including getting the sealant down. This is the seal that I applied to the subfloor, which is our moisture barrier. It dried to a really nice waxy-type film. With that sealer on the subfloor, I can apply the flooring directly to the subfloor. 

I started the first batch of layout, just to get this first chunk figured out. It’s 35 feet from the front of the house to the back of the house, and there are four sort-of individual rooms: the sunroom, the breakfast area, the pantry, and the kitchen. As I’m doing the grain layout and selection, I’m trying to keep in mind the overall flow of the room. Many parts of the floor will either be covered by built-ins or cabinetry or obscured by furniture, so I’m especially focusing on the aisle that goes all the way through this area. That spot needs to be pretty visually awesome.

Here’s the layout for the first seven rows, and I’m happy with this look. So now I can scoot these out of the way and get set up to install the first row. I decided to start at this spot on the floor because it’s the longest run and the most visible area of the floor.

The first row always involves the most finessing. I want my boards to run parallel to the wall of our current kitchen. So I’ve set up my chalk line parallel to that wall, and it’s about a 16th of an inch off from the walls of the addition. But this line should give me a really nice transition at the spot where my flooring goes up into the baseboards. So I’m ready to start laying down now!

This is the adhesive that I’m using for the flooring. Because I’m using wider planks for my flooring, there’s less physical fasteners holding the flooring down to the subfloor, so this adhesive keeps the floorboards from creeping around. You can either do a glue assist with just a little bit of glue, or you can fully glue the entire board down to the floor, which is what I’ll be doing. This adhesive is flexible and will allow the floor to float a bit as needed with the seasons as the wood expands and contracts.

Here is the first row installed and looking good. I’m going to work on the next couple of rows and see where it goes from there. 

I got the first seven rows installed! I didn’t do a great job with keeping the adhesive from getting into the area for the next row, so I’m going to do one more row and do a better job of stopping the adhesive sooner. 

Day two of floor install, and we are to the main focal point of the flooring. The area I will be installing today is the large walkway that will connect all of these different spaces. Because I will be considering the wood grain with more detail today, I figured it’s a good time to demonstrate the wood selection process. Picking out the wood and composing something that looks cool is something that I really enjoy, so I’m excited for this part. 

As a refresher, this is our sample board. The idea is to have a rift-sawn orientation to the white oak, so we will have very straight grain. But because I’m me, I’m considering this more of a base canvas, and I’ll be adding some splashes of interest here and there. 

As you can see, I have boards spread throughout the whole space, and I have even more in the great room where they were acclimating. I have a few different widths: a couple of fives, some full length fours, and some short and full length sixs. When making my selections, I consider what the boards look like in a certain spot and what part of the boards will be visible based on furniture and room layout.

I’m also trying to keep in mind where the seams line up. I’m trying my best to keep the seams far away from each other, which can also determine which boards I end up choosing for any given spot. It’s kind of like a big puzzle.

Here’s how far I’ve gotten, and I think I will go up to the pantry wall before I start to install these boards.

While we are talking about the floorboards, let me give some commentary on the quality of the machining on the floorboards. The last time I made flooring, the inconsistency of the tongue and groove was the biggest problem that I had. I had to hand-fit every single board with a shoulder plane or a track saw to straighten something, or I had to remove some extra material, or I had some other problem with the boards. This time has been much nicer. All of the boards go together, the tongue and grooves seat completely, and I don’t really have too many problems with snipe.

So here is the selected and assembled middle section of the floor. With this area being the longest stretch in the area, I wanted to keep it as fairly clear material, although I did sprinkle in some quarter sawn boards here and there. 

I placed some of the busier boards in spots that will go under the island and the cabinets that will eventually get installed in the kitchen, which is a nice way to hide some defects. 

After getting everything prepped, it’s time to play with the goop again and get everything glued down. After installing the first rows yesterday, I’ve learned that it’s best to lay down enough adhesive for just two rows so that I don’t have to rush to get everything laid down quickly. 

So I got a little carried away, and I ended up laying out all the way to the pantry for this next chunk of installation. 

I also did the selections for this part of the sunroom, so that’s ready to go. So I’m going to do the last two full length runs through the middle of the room, then lay down all of the boards I have selected in this entryway area of the sunroom. I’m going to leave the area of the pantry door off for now, because I want to make sure that layout works to go directly into the door opening. 

I have noticed more inconsistencies with the milling as I’ve been installing more of these boards. Some of them have a curve in them, some of the grooves weren’t cut deeply enough, and some were cut a little too narrow for some reason. It has resulted in some small gaps, like you can see here. I could fill it, but it’s just annoying that the boards weren’t milled perfectly. So if you’re thinking about purchasing one of those milling machines thinking you could make and sell products like flooring and trim, know that it will be awhile until you can consistently and reliably produce something with a high level of accuracy and consistency. 

I added these three rows here in the front area. Half of these went in without any problem, and then the last row was not behaving too well and needed some clamping. 

This spot worked out almost perfectly. I really was worried about this intersection where my rows go into the doorway. I’m going to have to notch the next board maybe just a little bit around the corner, but otherwise I think the lines are going to line up really nicely with the V-groove paneling up on the wall. 

Here is the next layout, which goes through the pantry, as well as continuing on the other side of the pantry wall in the entryway to the sunroom.

I haven’t mentioned end matching yet, so let’s address that quickly. The idea there is to put a tongue and groove onto the end of the board as well as along the sides. That ensures that over time, if the boards do move a bit, a lip won’t develop at that seam. You can cut that tongue and groove directly onto the ends of the boards using a router with a tongue cutter and a groove cutter.

Oh man, it’s actually feeling like a real room now! I still have a little more to go, but I’ve covered a lot of ground already. I will finish up the install next time, but I’m pretty happy with the way this flooring is coming together. 

So thank you as always for joining. I really appreciate it. If you have any questions or comments about the floor, anything with the home renovation, anything back in the shop, please feel free to leave me a comment. As always, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Until next time, happy woodworking.

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